August 24th, 2011

Tea-drinker par excellence

Borges' birthday

After writing "There are more things", JLB himself wrote a short game called El rastro del rastro. The game is played by two correspondents, each of which is a seeker after a different terrible truth. Each must name this truth with some kind of nonsense word (typically something backwards such as Egnaro or Drawoh) but never describe it. The players exchange letters in which they reveal a piece of the puzzle at each stage, not in a linear fashion but in revealing that what the other person last wrote was somehow ncomplete, wrong, untrustworthy or falsehood. For example, the story of a Dutch cartographer can be shown to be the invention of Russian nationalists seeking to discredit the Dutch position in India. It is important that each letter contain many references, most of which should be true but some of which should be invented. JLB wrote one such letter to HPL but the latter, having been dead for 38 years, he received no answer.

My only personal experience of the game was ten years ago when I was engaged in an exchange of letters with the local Inland Revenue office regarding my tax code. Over the series of letters it became apparent to me that there was a particular turn of phrase which I should have to use for the IR to give me the appropriate code. In return the IR made vague allegations about my activities in France and later as a short order cook in the UK but it was not clear to me the nature of the response they expected and I didn't want to show my hand too soon. Unfortunately I no longer have the correspondence, it having fallen from an attic window, however I do retain a not too unpleasant memory of this